UCB and Sanofi have signed a deal to discover and develop anti-inflammatory small molecules "which have the potential to treat a wide range of immune-mediated diseases in areas such as gastroenterology and arthritis".

UCB NewMedicines, the research arm of the Belgian drugmaker, says it has used "an innovative approach to identify small molecules modulators of a biological pathway, for which parenterally administered biologic therapies have proven highly efficacious in patients". A dedicated team of scientists will now be formed under the leadership of Sanofi and UCB "to characterise and identify new potential therapies".

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will share costs and profits on a 50/50 basis, while UCB will be entitled to initial upfront and development milestone payments from Sanofi, potentially exceeding 100 million euros.

Elias Zerhouni, Sanofi's R&D chief, said that “immune-mediated diseases affect individuals, families, and communities and impact the economies of countries and nations, making this poorly understood category of diseases a significant public health burden". He added that "joining efforts with UCB, we will address a scientific challenge in immunology and increase the chances of accelerating the discovery and development of future therapies".